This post was originally posted in 2012. I chose to touch it up and repost it here because it still rings surprisingly true two years later.
I recently listened to an episode of Enough, a podcast with Patrick Rhone and Myke Hurley, in which they talk about Myke’s “undiagnosed ADD” habits while writing. They discussed a lot more than that, as usual, but when Myke was describing himself I found him describing me as well. It was a bit freaky.
Myke mentioned that he often listens to music while writing because it helps to keep him on task. I do the same so I thought I should share my favourite tracks as Myke did his:
Tirol Concerto for Piano & Orchestra - II
This track is 16 minutes long and it puts me in a little bubble of soothing bliss for its entirety. It was composed by Phillip Glass so naturally the song is layered with emotion, strings, and the intense piano scales that he is famous for. Despite the sixteen minute long running time, I have played it forty three times. Download: iTunes, Amazon
The Social Network
The track Magnetic sticks out for me because it is full of electric guitar and complicated beats but yet remains subdued. Like all tracks on this album, it has a distinct feel and slowly builds to a great crescendo. Download: iTunes, Amazon
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
This soundtrack is very similar to The Social Network soundtrack because they were both composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. They both incorporate a lot of non instrumental content and, again, lots of complicated but subtle rhythms with slow builds. Download: iTunes, Amazon
This soundtrack is brilliant because it integrates grand orchestral pieces with Daft Punk’s unique electronic rhythms and bass. If you’re a geek you will probably already know how amazing this album is but it’s worth noting that iTunes and Amazon each have their own exclusive tracks. Download: iTunes, Amazon
This one is different because it’s a curated collection by Hector Simpson that’s wrapped up as a site. Each Tuesday Hector posts links to an album and lets you stream his favourite song on the site. I like to think of them as a bunch of piano and electric guitar solos that are really chill. From what I have heard (and bought) they don’t have lyrics. Highly recommended. Site: Postrock Tuesday, Favourite track
Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl
This soundtrack is a lot of fun. If I’m already slightly focused this album keep me in that groove. I’ve kept this one on the preverbal shelf for a while, after another listen its back on my regular rotation, and not just for while writing. Download: Amazon
The Bourne Identity
This is one of the first albums I owned. It’s womderful, has lots of variation, and incorporates a lot of non-instrumental elements that I feel were a bit ahead of the curve. Nowadays every other action thriller uses these types of non instrumental scores. Download: iTunes, Amazon
The Bourne Supremacy
This soundtrack is just as good, if not better, than it’s predecessor The Bourne Identity. I enjoy how each track feels singular but when taken as a whole they are even stronger. I’m a sucker for violins and is album delivers. Download: iTunes, Amazon
After listening to all of these again while writing this post I honestly can’t pick a favourite. I could try ranking them in some order but that would be agonizing and stupid. Like pairs of shoes are designed for an occasion, each of these selections are perfect for a specific occasion.
If you’re trying to piece together why these tracks and albums fit my writing environment you should really listen to the episode of Enough. Adding to Myke’s explanation, they fill the silence and cover up the small noises that annoy my brain and dislodge it from the task of writing. Some music, like music with lyrics, doesn’t help. Unfamiliar and new albums are even better at derailing my attention. If a track that does help me concentrate is playing I feel like the part of my mind that would wander is already occupied in the back of my brain and the part of my brain for writing is in the foreground, ready and focused.
I think it is a lot like using a TV program in the next room to keep a child happy while I work in another.